On the News With Thom Hartmann: Why the Media Refuse to Talk About the TPP, and More

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In today’s On the News segment: The Trans-Pacific Partnership was hugely overlooked in both the Democratic and GOP debates; Sweden may become the world’s first cashless country; Bernie Sanders is endorsing a small tax hike on all to fund family leave; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. EconomyInCrisis.org is just asking – Why does the media refuse to talk about the TPP? Well…we do, but most don’t. The TPP was hugely overlooked in both the Democratic and GOP debates. EconomyInCrisis.org says, “You may think that this is just another boring and insignificant issue, however, trade affects every person in this country and all across the world. Trade affects our jobs, our wages, the costs of items, and our economy.” The article goes on to explain, “How so? When we enter into trade agreements with countries that have extremely low wages, such as China who has an average yearly take home pay of $4,755, we suddenly have millions of jobs shipped overseas.” Trade agreements like the TPP allow companies to close up shop here in the US, and move overseas, where they can forget about environmental regulations, labor rights and even minimum wages. According to EconomyInCrisis, we have lost 3.2 million jobs to China since we helped them enter the World Trade Organization in 2001. If we don’t stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership – aka SHAFTA – we’re only going to see more US jobs disappear.

Sweden may become the world’s first cashless country. Niklas Arvidsson, an industrial technology and management researcher at KTH, says, “Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here in Sweden.” He added, “Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly.” Besides the ease and lower costs of digital payments, they are also transparent. Some banks in Sweden already have 100 percent digitalized branches, which won’t even accept cash. Niklas Arvidsson said, “At the offices which do handle banknotes and coins, the customer must explain where the cash comes from, according to the regulations aimed at money laundering and terrorist financing,” Could this be the start of a new phase for our planet? A cashless future?

Public Citizen says that 28 organizations want the Obama administration to slow down the revolving door between Wall Street and the government. These groups want to ban new federal officials from receiving extra pay from the financial industry simply for taking a government job. In recent years, former Wall Street officials have taken on a number of high-level roles in the executive branch. Alumni from Citigroup, for example, head the US Treasury Department and Office of the US Trade Representative. Obama has appointed 56 people with potential conflicts of interest, but he’s not alone. President Bill Clinton appointed 64 during his two terms; President George W. Bush saw 91 in his two terms. In July, US Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act to rein in revolving door abuses within financial regulatory agencies. In a letter announcing the bill, the lawmakers wrote, “Awarding outsized bonuses and gifts of equity to Wall Street executives who leave to go into public service is either a breach of a public corporation’s fiduciary duty to its stockholders or a down payment on future services rendered.” They added, “At best, it creates the appearance of corruption and conflict of interest. At worst, it results in undue and inappropriate corporate influence at the highest levels of government – in essence, a barely legal, backdoor form of bribery.”

ThinkProgress.org is reporting on James Murphy, who is 65 years old and can’t pay his student loans. Murphy owes more than $200,000 in federal student loans he took out to pay for college for his three children. After more than a decade of unemployment, Murphy wants a bankruptcy court to set him free him from this debt. Congressionally-created private company called ECMC collects student loan debts on behalf of the government. ECMC claims that Murphy’s circumstances, while dire, don’t qualify him for the “undue hardship” exception to federal law prohibiting bankruptcy courts from voiding student debt. Murphy has lawyers working on this but – Wow – apparently being older, close to retirement and unemployed for a decade isn’t a hardship now.

Occupy Democrats are pointing out that the Tea Party Republicans are left dazed because Obama has cut Bush’s deficit by $1 trillion while at the same time expanded needed social programs. Conservatives continue to try and scare people into thinking we can’t afford basic social programs by harping on the public deficit. The conservatives say “How can we guarantee health care to the people when we have so much debt?” Occupy states “Obama’s presidency has shown that bigger government does not mean bigger deficit – although no Republican will admit it, the public deficit has in fact shrunk by $1 trillion under Obama’s leadership, while at the same time programs like health care and education have expanded.” Wake Up Tea Party!!

Bloomberg Businessweek published a report recently finding the difference in pay for men and women grows as time goes by. Men and women earn about the same right after graduating – men’s $105,000 to women’s $98,000. But, that division becomes wider later on. Just six or eight years out of school, average compensation for men is $175,000, and $140,000 for women. For women, that evens out to around 80 percent of men’s pay, showing sadly that the roughly 78 cents women make to a man’s dollar still prevails. This study flies in the face of arguments that the pay gap between men and women results from a difference in education and skills. Businessweek reporter Natalie Kitroeff told HuffPost Live, “We’re looking at them coming out of the same schools, in the same years,” Kitroeff said. “It was surprising to find that there was such a persistent gap, and we found this across every single industry.”

And finally… Bernie Sanders is endorsing a small tax hike on all to fund family leave. The Democratic candidate says that Wall Street and corporate America would pay more if he’s elected president – but workers would face a small payroll tax hike as well. He said, “…it would mean that we would join the rest of the industrialized world and make sure that when a mom has a baby, she can, in fact, stay home with that baby for three months rather than go back to work at the end of one week.” That’s what real family values look like.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of October 26, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.